Men who eat around two handfuls of mixed almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts daily for 14 weeks saw an improved sperm count and more viable ‘swimmers’, according to new research.
The study comes at a seemingly perfect time, with a decline in sperm counts documented across the Western world, thanks to factors such as pollution, smoking, and diet. About one in seven couples have difficulty getting pregnant and about 40-50% of cases of infertility are attributable to men.
In the study, the scientists divided 119 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 35 into two groups:
- Group One added 60 grams (2oz) of nuts a day to their normal diet
- Group Two made no changes to what they ate
Those in the added-nut group improved sperm:
- count by 14%
- vitality by 4%
- motility (movement) by 6%
- morphology (shape and size) by 1%
The scientists found the study backing up other research that found a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and the B vitamin folate improved fertility, which nuts offer in spades.
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“Evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception,” says Dr. Albert Salas-Huetos, from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, in Spain, who led the study.
However, researchers warned that the participants were healthy and fertile, so it was not clear whether the findings would apply to the wider population, particularly men with real fertility problems.
Dr. Virginia Bolton, formerly consultant clinical embryologist at Guy’s Hospital in London, feels the findings were “interesting academically” but impossible to say what effect they would have in boosting pregnancy chances.
“But meanwhile, until we get the answers to the questions, we should all be encouraging all of our patients to stop drinking alcohol, stop smoking, eat healthily, all of the standard things,” she said.
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